Physics and human nature have lot many similarities.
Conflicting expectations of superiors
According to ‘Physics’, whenever two forces are applied on a single object, it is the direction and the strengths of individual force that decides resultant force applicable on the object (direction and strength of the resultant force). For example, Force ‘A’ has an intrinsic strength of say 2 units, whereas force ‘B’ has strength of 3 units. Both the forces are working upon object ‘O’ from two different directions. Ultimately the effect of force on the object ‘O,’ i.e., the resultant force, will be diagonal to the direction of force ‘A’ and ‘B.’ Moreover, the strength of this resultant force will be less than the sum of their individual strengths. In this case, it will be less than 5.
On the contrary, if both the forces act upon the object in the same direction the strength of the resultant force will be the sum total of their individual strengths, i.e., 5. As parents/managers most of the time, we have conflicting expectations from our children/team members. We not only give different instructions (sometimes contradictory to each other or our own instructions given earlier) but also compel the child/subordinate to work according to our instructions only. Conflicting instructions of parents/superior confuse the child/person as to which instruction to follow. Ultimately he resorts to an entirely different action, which may not conform to any of the instructions given. Therefore, while giving an instruction to child/person, we must keep in mind that the instruction does not contradict the instructions of spouse/senior, company or given earlier by ourselves.
Excerpts from the book: Why My Horse Doesn’t Drink – Learn to motivate people around you